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Computer Crimes: NY Penal Law 156


Unlike other crimes like burglary and assault, computer crimes are rarely heard in New York criminal news. But such crimes do exist, and New York prosecutors are quite vigilant when it comes to finding and holding accountable individuals involved in computer crimes. Because of this, you need to understand the laws governing computer crimes in New York.

In New York, computer crimes are codified under Article 156 of the New York Penal Code. This article focuses on five distinct computer crime offenses, namely:

  1. Computer trespass
  2. Unauthorized use of a computer
  3. Unlawful duplication of computer-related material
  4. Computer tampering
  5. Criminal possession of computer-related material

Unauthorized Use of a Computer

In New York, this is generally the most common offense under computer crimes. According to NY Penal Law 156.05, you are guilty of unauthorized use of a computer when you consciously use, cause to be used, or access a computer, or a computer network/service without authorization. The crime of unauthorized/illegal use of a computer is a class A misdemeanor.

Computer Trespass                                                           

Computer trespass is also a common charge in New York. According to NY Penal Law 156.10, you are guilty of computer trespass when you consciously use, cause someone else to use, or access a computer, computer network/service without authorization with an intent to commit or try to commit or further the commission of a felony. The offense of computer trespass is a class E felony.

Computer Tampering: Four Degrees

The offense of computer tampering is divided into four degrees, with the most basic of the crimes being computer tampering in the fourth degree. According to NY Penal Law 156.20, you are guilty of computer tampering in the fourth degree, when you;

  • use,
  • cause someone else to use, or
  • access a computer, computer network/service,

without authorization and then intentionally alter in any way or destroy computer data or a computer program of another individual. Such an offense is a class A misdemeanor.

Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material

This offense generally involves illegally copying computer-related material. According to NY Penal Law 156.30, you are guilty of unlawfully duplicating computer-related material in the first degree when you have no authorization to do so, you copy, reproduce, or duplicate in any way any computer data or computer program; therefore, intentionally and wrongfully depriving an owner thereof an economic value in excess of $2,500. Such a crime is a class E felony.

Unlawful copying of computer-related material in the second degree involves copying, reproducing, or duplicating medical records.

Criminal Possession of Computer Related Material

According to NY Penal Law 156.35, you are guilty of criminal possession of computer-related material, without the right to do so, you knowingly possess, in any form, any reproduction, copy or duplicate of any computer program or data which was copied, duplicated, or reproduced in violation of NY Penal Law 156.30, with the intention to benefit yourself or another person. Such a crime is a class E felony.

Please note that you don’t have to have violated NY Penal Law 156.30 to violate NY Penal Law 156.35.

Contact an NYC Computer Crime Attorney

If you have been charged with a computer crime in New York, you should contact Mark I. Cohen, an experienced NYC computer crime attorney, at 212-732-0002, to increase your chances of preserving your reputation, freedom, and assets.

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